A little more than a month ago, Lola had an incident at gymnastics where she refused to go on up to the high bar. She was scared.
This isn’t anything new, Lola tends to shy away from lots of scary things. For example, we went through the same thing a half-year or so ago, when she refused to go on the high beam for a while too.
She didn’t get in trouble after the high bar incident but we had a lot of long talks about it, about how she shouldn’t be afraid to try new things. That her teacher wouldn’t ask her to do something unsafe. That she would be watched and protected the whole time.
We talked a lot about bravery, about being strong, about taking risks even if they’re intimidating. That when someone asks you to try something new, you trust them. That t teacher wouldn’t ask you to do something dangerous.
So she and I made a “contract” -- where she agreed that even if she was scared, she would at least attempt to go on the high bar the next time the teacher asked her to. Even if she didn’t feel comfortable hanging on it, she had to at least try.
Now, Lola happens to attend the daycare center that is attached to the gymnastics center. So, on occasion, they get to play in the gym and run around.
Wouldn’t you know, the next day I go to pick her up from gymnastics and she is sitting on the counter of the gymnastics center, crying, holding a bag of ice to her face.
Her daycare teacher explained that she got hurt jumping into the pit of foam. Lola tried to talk to me, but she was quite emotional, clearly in some degree of pain, and nearly hysterical so I just gathered the girls and got them into the car, where we could talk a little easier.
I asked her what happened.
“I was - (sob) - trying to - (sob) - do a flip - (sob) - off the mats into the - (sob) pit,” she wailed.
As she flipped around, her knee came up and smacked her face, right in her lip.
“Lola, I don’t think you know how to do flips into the pit, do you?” I asked.
Pike jumps, tuck jumps, straddle jumps, sure, but not flips...
“(A friend) she told me I should try,” Lola said, taking deeper breaths, calming down. “And I know it was scary but you said I should be brave, that I should try to do things that are scary, that I should trust myself and be strong.”
This is where I think I beat my forehead against the steering wheel.
“Lola, I meant teachers. Gymnastics teachers, not your older friends.”
But of course, it was a little too late for that.
So, that night, we talked a bit more, about the difference between listening to teachers’ requests and ideas from friends. We talked a lot about the difference between learning new skills at gymnastics with a teacher helping you and playing around at open gym.
Still, yeah, this one was all on me. Mommy fail.
As life happens, gymnastics since then has been focused on other skills, on their routines for an upcoming show. And Lola wasn’t asked to go back on the high beam. Still, that contract has been sitting in our house, waiting.
Last night, I snuck out of gymnastics for a bit to call someone and when I came back in, I saw Lola nervously waiting in line for her turn on the uneven bars. And then I saw that, one by one, the girls were going up on the high bar.
Now, one nice benefit of Millie’s communication delays is that we can all communicate to each other while we're far away from each other. I signed to Lola, Are you scared? and she nodded. But she didn’t ask that she be allowed not to do it and I certainly didn’t volunteer that option.
And then her turn came…
I asked her, later, if she had fun.
“Yeah, it was a lot of fun,” she said.
“Are you excited to do it again?”
“Um, no, not really,” She paused. “But I will."